When I was 13 years old, my parents separated. On the night I witnessed it happening, at first, I could not believe that my home was about to be shattered, and that I would, from that time on, be part of the broken homes list.
No matter how common break-ups are in marriage, it was still a painful experience for me. My dad is a good person, but it was not easy for him to sit down and talk about problems.
We all need fathers. They are traditionally the leaders, the hunters and providers in the family. But even more than that, they are called to be shepherds of the family, mirroring the love of the Heavenly Father and following in the footsteps of St. Joseph. They are first exhorted to have a deeply personal relationship with God, making Him their anchor. They have the responsibility to bring their families closer to Him.
In a Psychology Today article entitled “Absentee Fathers and Teen Pregnancy” reviewed on June 9, 2016, Colin Allen wrote, “A father’s absence ups a daughter’s risk for early sexual activity and teenage pregnancy,” and the writer based it on a long-term study.
An article by the Pediatrics Association of Franklin entitled “The Importance of a Father in a Child’s Life” stresses, “Fathers, like mothers, are pillars in the development of a child’s emotional well-being. Studies have shown that when fathers are affectionate and supportive, it greatly affects a child’s cognitive and social development. It also instills an overall sense of well-being and self-confidence. A father shows his daughter what a good relationship with a man is like…boys model themselves after their father’s character.”
It is not easy to be a provider, but we pray that fathers may seek not only the financial capacity to support their families, but also the gifts of deepening their love for their families, and the graces of wisdom, courage and fortitude in steering their homes towards God and service to fellowmen.
When children see how their dads love their wives and stay faithful to them, the children, in turn, will experience nurturance and love towards each other as well. The challenge for dads is not only to bring home the bacon, but also to instill Christian values in their sons and daughters, particularly by showing these by example. “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up with the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). We do need not only biological fathers, but also those after the Heavenly Father’s heart.